(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

FARMER OF THE EASTERN SLOPE              189

debris. It had not rained for a long time, and the work of clearing the
rubble and converting it into rice-fields was a back-breaking task.
After working until I was utterly exhausted, I took my hands from the
plough with a sigh, and wrote the following poems in commemora-
tion of my own labour and my hope that my toil might be well
rewarded with next year's crops."

The Tungpo or Eastern Slope homestead occupied actually about
ten acres and lay only one-third of a mile east of the city, directly on
a hill-side. On top was the house with three rooms overlooking a
pavilion below, and below the pavilion was the famous Snow Hall.
This hall, with a five-room front, was completed in the snow in
February of the following year. The walls were painted by the poet
himself with snow scenes of forests and rivers and fishermen. Later,
this was where he entertained his friends, and where the great land-
scape painter of the Sung dynasty, Mi Fei, then a young man of twenty-
two, came to make his acquaintance and discuss painting with him.
The poet, Lu Yu, who visited the Eastern Slope in October 1170, some
seventy years after Su's death, recorded that there was a portrait of
Su Tungpo hanging in the middle of the hall The portrait showed
him dressed in a purple gown and a black hat and reclining on a rock
with a bamboo cane in his hand.

Below the steps of the Snow Hall a little bridge spanned a small
ditch, usually dry except in the rainy season. On the east of the Snow
Hall there was a tall willow tree planted by the poet himself, and
farther to the east there was a small well containing delightfully cool
spring water, but having no other merit than that it was the poet's
well. On the east and below, there were rice-fields, wheat-fields, a long
stretch of mulberries, vegetables, and a great orchard of fruit trees.
Somewhere he also planted tea, which he obtained from a friend in a
neighbouring district.

Behind the homestead rose the Prospect Pavilion, situated on top
of a mound and commanding an unobstructed view of the country-
side. His neighbour on the west was Mr. Ku, who owned the
forest of huge bamboos, seven inches in circumference, growing so
thick that in it one could not see the sky. There in its shade Su
"Tungpo spent the hot summer days, and besides gathered the dry and
very smooth sheaths of the bamboo for lining his wife's shoes.

Su Tungpo was now a real farmer and not merely a landlord. In a
poem echoing one by his friend Kung Pingchung, he said:

"Last year I cleared the rubble on the Eastern Slope,
And planted myself mulberries a hundred yards long.
This year I cut the hay to thatch the Snow Hall.
Exposed to the sun and wind, my face becomes well tanned."